Peterborough Casino Opening Leaves Kawartha Downs with a “Cold Table”

Slot machines at Shorelines Casino Peterborough on October 15, 2018. Photo by Leina Amatsuji-Berry.

On Monday October 15, the 4:40 p.m. the Major Bennett bus route was running 15 minutes behind schedule.

One might normally attribute the delay to rush hour traffic, but an increase in usual ridership suggested otherwise. A majority of passengers got off the bus at the Parkway and Crawford drive. They were heading to the new casino.

Shorelines Casino Peterborough opened its doors at 1400 Crawford drive on October 15 shortly before 5 p.m. The grand opening featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, as well as live entertainment and a commemorative keychain for the first 2500 guests.

Like most casinos, what Shorelines Casino Peterborough’s game floor lacks in natural daylight it makes up for in overhead security cameras. The new casino facility boasts 50000 square-feet, featuring 450 slot machines and dealer tables for card games like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat. It has a restaurant, lounge space, buffet space, as well as an Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) PlaySmart lounge.

Construction on Crawford drive continues, however, with a Hamptons Inn hotel being constructed just steps away from the casino.

However, the grand opening has been overshadowed by an employee lock-out at Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Downs in Fraserville, just minutes southwest of the city.

The statement on the Shorelines Casinos website read:

“As of October 14 at 11:59 p.m., we are temporarily closing Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Downs due to operational and regulatory requirements that are necessary for the re-opening of the gaming floor.

We look forward to welcoming customers again when we re-open, and we are working hard to ensure that happens as quickly as possible.

We appreciate your patience and understanding; we will be announcing the reopening date very soon.”

“As we get ready to open our doors and offer an unparalleled gaming and entertainment experience to our guests, we want to recognize the efforts of all the local businesses and trades personnel who worked on this project. Hiring local talent was very important to us and together we have constructed an exceptional facility,” said Bryan Buchanan, General Manager at Shorelines Casino Peterborough, ahead of the opening.

Buchanan said that Shorelines Casino Peterborough has 300 team members, “180 of which are new.”

30 to 40 Shorelines workers at Kawartha Downs were frustrated to learn of the lock-out just one day prior to the Peterborough location opening. This was compounded by a sign outside the Slots that read that Shorelines had “moved” to its “new home” at the Peterborough location, despite Fraserville township striking a deal with the provincial government over Thanksgiving weekend that stated that at least 150 slot machines would remain at the Fraserville location. This sign has since been changed to one that reflects the announcement found online.

Shorelines workers at the Fraserville location are being paid during the temporary closure.

While the OLG has since announced that the shutdown at the Fraserville location will last “approximately two weeks” from October 14’s announcement, it has not reopened on October 29.

The same deal that Fraserville made with the provincial government to save the slot machines at Kawartha Downs also promises to bring horse harness racing back to the facility’s racetrack. Harness racing is an agricultural sport where horses are attached to a race bike and are steered by drivers through a one-mile race.

Kawartha Downs has faced the threat of closure since the previous provincial government made changes to how horse racing as an agricultural business activity is funded. The “slots-at-racetracks” program, which used revenue generated from slot machines located at racetracks to supplement horse racing activity, was cancelled in 2012 after the Drummond Report recommendations.

The previous provincial government then reinstated funding for industry a month before the June 2018 provincial election, granting “up to $105 million a year, for 19 years, for the horse racing sector, starting April 1, 2019.”

The current provincial government promised to resurrect the slots-at-racetracks program during its 2018 campaign.

However, due to non-disclosure clauses on the details of the deal between the two parties, it is unclear the amount of funding Kawartha Downs will receive.

While the Fraserville location awaits its reopening date, Shorelines Casino Peterborough’s opening has dazzled attendees and will draw increasing crowds in the year to come.

About Leina Amatsuji-Berry 35 Articles
Leina Amatsuji-Berry is Arthur's co-editor-in-chief alongside Lubna Sadek for Volumes 53 (2018-2019) and 54 (2019-2020). She was Arthur's Digital Media Coordinator during Volume 52 (2017-2018). She is a Trent University alumna, having completed a joint-major Honours degree in English literature and media studies with the class of 2018. Her interests include intersectional social justice, social media, memes, critical theory & philosophy, and fashion. When she is not working, she enjoys writing poetry, drinking tea, and eating burritos and sushi. Her karaoke skills will blow you away.